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Lesson 12: From North and South to the Beautiful Land *

Introduction: Let's review. Three weeks ago we found Daniel praying and fasting for understanding of the appalling vision he recorded in Daniel 8. (See Daniel 8:27.) Gabriel came to Daniel in our study two weeks ago (Daniel 9) to explain the vision. Last week, in Daniel 10, Daniel receives a revelation about a "great war." Once again, he is praying for an understanding. Gabriel again comes to explain. This week and the next, we study this great war. Let's dive into our study and learn more!

  1. Gabriel's Explanation


    1. Read Daniel 11:1. Who is speaking? (Read Daniel 10:20-21. Gabriel continues what he is saying to Daniel in chapter 10 about the supernatural fight over the leaders of Persia and Greece.)


      1. What point in time is this? (The first year of the Medo-Persian empire.)


    2. Read Daniel 11:2. Daniel has had several dreams about Medo-Persia and Greece. Is this more detail about those same revelations? (Since Gabriel is speaking just before Cyrus becomes king of the Medo-Persian empire, we must be looking at the three kings who followed Cyrus of Persia. Commentators identify this fourth king as Xerxes, who, according to Herodotus, took four years to prepare an expedition against Greece.)


    3. Read Daniel 11:3-4. Did Persia defeat Greece? If not, who is this "mighty king?" (Persia did not defeat Greece. In fact, Greece, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, later invaded Persia and defeated it. Alexander the Great died at a very early age. As a result, his empire was divided among his four main generals.)


    4. Read Daniel 11:5-8. We read about the "King of the North" and the "King of the South," and find an extraordinary amount of detail about an alliance, a betrayal, and even about a woman who is involved in the power struggle. Who is this "King of the South?" (There is much agreement among commentators about this history. But, we have direct evidence from the Bible. Daniel 11:7-8 specifically mentions goods from the "fortress" of the "King of the North" being carried "off to Egypt." This tells us that the King of the South rules Egypt. This fits history. Seluceucus, one of the Greek generals, controlled Syria (to the north) and another general, Ptolemy, controlled Egypt. They had many wars between them.)


      1. When we talk about north and south, what is the point of reference? (Jerusalem. This is what concerns Daniel the most.)


    5. We are going to skip Daniel 11:9-15 because they merely explain more details of the battles between the King of the North and the King of the South. Read Daniel 11:16. What do you think is "the Beautiful Land?" (Read Ezekiel 20:15. This is Israel. We now see the reason for all of this detail. Gabriel tells Daniel that Israel will be invaded again.)


    6. Read Daniel 11:19. What does this tell us about the King of the North? (His power ends. He is "seen no more.")


    7. Read Daniel 11:20-21 and Daniel 8:23. Notice that both refer to a man taking power through intrigue. Who do you think this represents? (Have you noticed that Daniel 11 parallels Daniel 8 in many ways? Although many commentators think this refers to Antiochus Epiphanes, when we studied Daniel 8 we saw that the better fit is Papal Rome. That means that we have a transition here, perhaps starting at Daniel 11:16, to pagan and Papal Rome. Thus, this continues the parallel with the prior visions.)


    8. Read Daniel 11:22. Who is the prince of the covenant? (I believe that it is Jesus. That makes sense if pagan Rome is the power referred to here. The problem is that Daniel 11:21-22 cannot refer to Papal Rome and Daniel 11:22 refer to Jesus. The solution to this is to identify the person of intrigue as Tiberius, a vile Roman emperor who reigned when Jesus was crucified.)


  2. Transition to the Future - Two Theories


    1. Read Daniel 11:27-28 and Daniel 11:40. Wait a minute! We previously read that the King of the North was "seen no more" ( Daniel 11:19). How can we be seeing him again here?


      1. Notice that Daniel 11:40 refers to the "time of the end." Those two kings (North and South) existed long ago. How can we read they are doing something at the "time of the end?" (Read Daniel 12:2. This indicates that the time of the end reaches to the time of the end of the world. If you understand that the kings of the North and South are rival powers that arose after the death of Alexander the Great, then this timing makes absolutely no sense when applied to them.)


        1. Do you have some way to make sense of this? (Let's skip ahead to Daniel 11:40 and see if we can make sense of this.)


    2. Read Daniel 11:40-41. If these are not the same powers as those arising from the time of Alexander the Great, why call them the King of the North and King of the South? (The point of reference, Israel, has not changed. Thus, this refers to powers that are geographically on both sides of Israel.)


      1. What does this tell us about the importance of Israel to prophecy? (It suggests that God never turns His focus away from His people or His city.)


    3. When you have been studying Daniel 11, has any of it so far described "spiritual" events? (There are many who spiritualize these future kings. However, nothing in Daniel 11 spiritualizes these historical events. Indeed, that is one of the distinct characteristics of Daniel 11, it is a very precise statement of future historic events. People who know a lot more about this than I do, such as William H. Shea, argue that these verses about the future should be spiritualized. For that reason, I'm going to set out the spiritual theory first, and then the "actual events" theory second.)


    4. First Theory: Re-read Daniel 11:22. Which power killed Jesus? (Rome. We see in Daniel 11 a parallel to Daniel 2 and 8. If that is the case, then Rome (pagan and Papal) would succeed Greece to be the King of the North. This also works geographically.)


      1. Does Rome still exist? (It exists in both a physical and spiritual form.)


      2. Read Daniel 11:40-42. What about the King of the South? What spiritual aspect of Egypt exists today? (Egypt was "anti-God," meaning against the true God of the Bible.)


        1. Is there an "anti-God" movement today? (Absolutely! Europe is mostly secular. There is a rapidly growing atheism movement in the United States. China attacks Christians. The old Soviet Union opposed Christianity.)


        2. These verses tell us that the King of the North invades all of these countries, including the "Beautiful Land." Would it be reasonable to expect that Catholicism invades Israel? What about Christianity in general?


      3. Read Daniel 11:43-45. Do you think this predicts the future for Catholicism? What about Christianity? (One of the problems with broadening Catholicism to include all of Christianity, is that throughout the Old Testament, the "North" represented the enemies of God's people. Thus, the only kind of Christianity that would fit the definition here, as a historical matter, is some sort of false Christianity.)


    5. Second Theory: Re-read Daniel 11:40-42. What country to the North of Israel fits this description in terms of literal events? (The United States has invaded the Middle East with "chariots" (tanks) "cavalry" (planes) and "a great fleet of ships.")


      1. Are there some nations in the Middle East that the United States has not subdued?


      2. Would it be fair to say that the United States has "invaded the Beautiful Land?" (As a practical matter, Israel is dependent on the United States. If Israel's enemies were not afraid of the U.S., I imagine they would more aggressively attack Israel.)


      3. Daniel 11:40 says that King of the South will engage the King of the North in battle? Has anyone engaged - taken the first step in battle - against the United States? (If the King of the South refers to Islam and the nations supporting it, then the answer is "yes." The United States was attacked by Islam on September 11, 2001.)


      4. Read Daniel 11:43-45. Can you see this as a possibility for the United States in the future?


    6. Friend, no one should be dogmatic about how to understand the future application of Daniel 11. God's people badly misunderstood the way that Jesus would come and minister the first time. I think a great deal of humility in predicting the events surrounding the second coming is warranted for us today. At the same time, I encourage you to be alert to see how God moves in the future!


  3. Next week: From Dust to Stars.
* Copr. 2020, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2020 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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